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AURORA, Ill.- Sophomore forward Justin Ward (Wisconsin Dells) scored 29 points and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds to help the Lakeland College men's basketball team erase a two-point deficit at halftime in a 92-79 win over Aurora University in Northern Athletics Conference cross-division play Saturday afternoon.
The Muskies (13-4, 7-2) and the Spartans (8-9, 4-5 NAC) went tit-for-tat in the opening minutes of the first half, including four tied scores and three lead changes. Aurora gained the lead at the 12:20 mark and went on a 16-6 run to take a 10-point lead midway through the half. Lakeland answered on a 21-15 run to cut the lead to two heading into halftime.
Aurora extended its advantage to seven in the opening minutes of the second half, but freshman Joey Burris (Kiel) hit a 3-pointer on a steal from sophomore Stan McKenzie (Racine) to give Lakeland a 56-54 lead, a lead it never relinquished, at the 14:05 mark.
"Aurora played really well in the first half and gave us some problems," said head coach Aaron Aanonsen. "We played better basketball in the second half and transitioned well on both ends of the court. Defensively, we did a better job contesting their shots and came out on top."
Junior Jake Schwarz (Sheboygan) finished with evening with another double-double performance, including 16 points and 12 rebounds, while senior Josh Regal (Suring) chipped in with 14 points and five assists.
The Muskies return to NAC action on Jan. 26 as they host Maranatha Baptist Bible College in a 7 p.m. tip in the Moose and Dona Woltzen gymnasium.